Zachary Taylor and His Son-in-Law

Thursday, February 23, AD 2017

Jefferson Davis was the son-in-law of Zachary Taylor.  Marrying the daughter, Sarah Knox Taylor, of General Zachary Taylor, who opposed the marriage, he resigned his commission in the Army in 1835.  Tragically the new bride died three months after her marriage of malaria.  She was 21.  Taylor blamed Davis for bringing his daughter to the malarial infested region in which his plantation was located in Mississippi.  War would end the enmity of the two men who loved Sarah Knox Taylor.

Although he had resigned from the Army, however, Davis never ceased to be a military man, always retaining a fascination for all things martial. Thus it was only natural that Davis, a Congressman from Mississippi at the beginning of the Mexican War, resigned from Congress and raised a volunteer regiment, the Mississippi Rifles, which he led as colonel.

On July 21, 1846, the regiment sailed from New Orleans to join the army of Zachary Taylor in northern Mexico.

Davis had armed his regiment with 1841 percussion rifles, the latest technology, with much more reliable percussion caps substituted for flint locks. Davis’ men during the war would use the rifles with such deadly skill that ever afterwords the rifles became known as 1841 Mississippi percussion rifles.

Davis and his men participated in the siege of Monterrey in September of 1846. The war in northern Mexico then entered a quiet phrase which was shattered in February of 1847 by a Mexican offensive.

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One Response to Zachary Taylor and His Son-in-Law

  • Great Story. I have always thought that the Confederacy would have been better served by Davis in the field than in the presidency. He surely would have preferred that. But always for him duty was the highest call.

May 10, 1865: Jefferson Davis Captured

Sunday, May 10, AD 2015

Wonder how Jefferson Davis
Feels, down there in Montgomery, about Sumter.
He must be thinking pretty hard and fast,
For he’s an able man, no doubt of that.
We were born less than forty miles apart,
Less than a year apart–he got the start
Of me in age, and raising too, I guess,
In fact, from all you hear about the man,
If you set out to pick one of us two
For President, by birth and folks and schooling,
General raising, training up in office,
I guess you’d pick him, nine times out of ten
And yet, somehow, I’ve got to last him out.

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body

Jefferson Davis, first and last president of the Confederacy, was captured by Union cavalry near Irwinville, Georgia one hundred and fifty years ago.  Secretly he is happy about this turn of events.  He expects to be tried for treason and looks forward to defending himself on Constitutional grounds.  Instead, he will spend two years incarcerated, and then be released on bail, never to have his day in court.  He would have the misfortune to survive the War for almost a quarter of a century, and to become involved in many querulous debates with former Confederates who sought to blame him for the loss of the War.  Far better for Davis if he had been killed by the Union troopers and died, the martyr of the Lost Cause.  Instead, he was fated to endure the worst fate for a loser of a great historical turning point:  a long life in which to play the role of scapegoat.

Robert E. Lee I think had it right when he said that he could think of no one who could have done as well as Davis as President.  A great man who almost led his nation to victory, Davis had the misfortune to be opposed by a greater man leading a stronger nation.  In response to his critics, he produced a two volume turgid defense entitled The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (1881), published, ironically, by a New York publishing house.  At 1500 pages it is one of the great unread books of American history, the province of only the most obsessive of Civil War scholars, although Oscar Wilde, strangely enough, proclaimed it a literary masterpiece, although even he admitted that he skimmed the military portions.   In recent decades Davis, who had his slaves run his plantation along with their own court system, has been often portrayed as a devil stick figure, as if he had invented slavery, a sort of anti-Lincoln.  This is ahistoric rubbish.  Davis was a fascinating, and often contradictory, man and the scholarship devoted to him has been sadly lacking.  The man who came so close to changing the course of the nation deserves better from the servants of Clio.

T. H. Peabody, a member of the Union cavalry unit that captured Davis gave this account:

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February 25, 1865: Lee Will Not Give Up the Texas Brigade

Wednesday, February 25, AD 2015

 

..”Attention Texas Brigade” was rung upon the morning air, by Gen. Gregg, “the eyes of General Lee are upon you, forward, march.” Scarce had we moved a step, when Gen. Lee, in front of the whole command, raised himself in his stirrups, uncovered his grey hairs, and with an earnest, yet anxious voice, exclaimed above the din and confusion of the hour, “Texans always move them.”
…never before in my lifetime or since, did I ever witness such a scene as was enacted when Lee pronounced these words, with the appealing look that he gave. A yell rent the air that must have been heard for miles around, and but few eyes in that old brigade of veterans and heroes of many a bloody field was undimmed by honest, heart-felt tears. Leonard Gee, a courier to Gen. Gregg, and riding  by my side, with tears coursing down his cheeks and yells issuing from his throat exclaimed, “I would charge hell itself for that old man.”

 

Private Robert Campell, 5th Texas Infantry

The fighting erupted early on the second day of the Battle of the Wilderness.  Grant assumed that Hill’s corps had been fought out on the first day and could be overrun with a strong attack.  At 5:00 AM Hancock attacked with three divisions, with two in support.  By 6:00 AM Hill’s corps was in full retreat and disaster loomed for Lee.  At that time the 800 man Texas Brigade, perhaps the elite fighting unit in the Army of Northern Virginia, the vanguard of Longstreet’s corps arrived and saved the day.  Longstreet launched a two division counterattack up the Orange Plank Road, with the Texans, who suffered 650 casualties, leading the attack on the north side of the Road.

This action by the Texan Brigade, and similar actions on many other fields, caused Lee to treasure the unit as his shock troops.  This caused Lee to deny a request by the Governor of Texas in February of 1865.  The request and the denial are contained in this letter from Jefferson Davis to the Governor of  Texas:

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January 12, 1865: Davis Note to Blair

Monday, January 12, AD 2015

Lincoln v. Davis

 

Go here to read about the peace initiative of Francis P. Blair who travelled to Richmond to meet with President Davis.

Jefferson Davis was a very shrewd man, much shrewder I think than most historians have given him credit for being.  He realized that little could be expected from negotiations with Lincoln because Lincoln would never agree to Confederate independence, the one non-negotiable issue as far as both Lincoln and Davis were concerned.  Additionally, he regarded a joint Union Confederate war against the French in Mexico, the core of the Blair initiative,  to be a fairly bizarre proposal.  However, he was eager to negotiate.  The Confederate military situation was beyond dire.  If the negotiations led to Confederate independence, victory would be snatched at the last instant.  If, as Davis expected, the negotiations led to nothing, he could tell his people that he had attempted negotiations and the Union would not negotiate in good faith, and all that remained was a last ditch struggle to secure on the battlefield what the North would never concede on the negotiating table.   Here is the note that he gave to Blair to take back to Lincoln: 

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The Reply of Jefferson Davis to Lee’s Offer to Resign

Friday, December 6, AD 2013

Ah, Jefferson Davis.  During the War he was a devil figure for the North and after the War many Southerners blamed him for their loss.  Actually Davis was a highly accomplished man who came close, against all odds, to achieving independence for his new nation.   Often regarded as a bloodless pedant, Davis was instead a man who usually wore his heart on his sleeve, for good and ill.  A good example of this is the letter he drafted on August 11, 1863 in which he responded to the offer to resign made by General Robert E. Lee in the wake of the Gettysburg defeat:

 

 

Richmond, Va., August 11, 1863.

General R. E. Lee, Commanding Army of Northern Virginia:

Yours of the 8th instant has just been received. I am glad that you concur so entirely with me as to the wants of our country in this trying hour, and am happy to add that after the first depression consequent upon our disasters in the West, indications have appeared that our people will exhibit that fortitude which we agree in believing is alone needful to secure ultimate success.

It well became Sydney Johnston, when overwhelmed by a senseless clamor, to admit the rule that success is the test of merit; and yet there has been nothing which I have found to require a greater effort of patience than to bear the criticisms of the ignorant, who pronounce everything a failure which does not equal their expectations or desires, and can see no good result which is not in the line of their own imaginings. I admit the propriety of your conclusions that an officer who loses the confidence of his troops should have his position changed, whatever may be his ability, but when I read the sentence I was not at all prepared for the application you were about to make. Expressions of discontent in the public journals furnish but little evidence of the sentiment of the army. I wish it were otherwise, even though all the abuse of myself should be accepted as the results of honest observation.

Were you capable of stooping to it, you could easily surround yourself with those who would fill the press with your laudations, and seek to exalt you for what you had not done, rather than detract from the achievements which will make you and your army the subject of history and object of the world’s admiration for generations to come.

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Jefferson Davis and the Suspension of Habeas Corpus

Thursday, February 7, AD 2013

 

 

Continuing on with our examination of the suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, the first part of which may be read here, we turn to Jefferson Davis and the suspension of habeas corpus in the Confederacy.  The Confederate Constitution provided for the suspension of habeas corpus:

Sec. 9 (3) The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

On February 27, 1862 the Confederate Congress vested in Davis the power to suspend Habeas Corpus.  On March 1, 1862 Davis used this power, suspending the writ of Habeas Corpus and declaring martial law in a ten-mile radius around the City of Richmond.

Davis would use this power throughout the War, especially in regions where Unionist sentiment was strong, for example in East Tennessee where martial law was imposed and the writ of habeas corpus suspended in 1862.

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3 Responses to Jefferson Davis and the Suspension of Habeas Corpus

  • “On February 27, 1862 the Confederate Congress vested in Davis the power to suspend Habeas Corpus. ” “… Congress vested in Davis the power to suspend Habeas Corpus.” Obama took the power to suspend Habeas Corpus of his own initiative through the National Defense Authorization Act signed on Christmas Eve in Hawaii…and with our tax money, without our informed consent. Taxation without representation. Nasty totalitarianism.

    What Congress does, Congress can undo. In this case. Obama has told both, Congress, that they may not review his executive orders for six months, and the Supreme Court of the United States of America to do his bidding.

    -EXECUTIVE ORDER 11310 grants authority to the Department of Justice to enforce the plans set out in Executive Orders, to institute industrial support, to establish judicial and legislative liaison, to control all aliens, to operate penal and correctional institutions, and to advise and assist the President.
    -EXECUTIVE ORDER 11921 allows the Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency to develop plans to establish control over the mechanisms of production and distribution, of energy sources, wages, salaries, credit and the flow of money in U.S. financial institution in any undefined national emergency. It also provides that when a state of emergency is declared by the President, Congress cannot review the action for six months.

  • In the US Constitution, the power to suspend Habeas Corpus is vested in the legislative branch. Lincoln did not have the authority to suspend Habeas Corpus. Lincoln did it anyway. Obama is following Lincoln’s lead.

  • Congress authorized Lincoln after the fact to suspend habeas corpus in the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act of 1863. I wish Obama were trying to follow in the footsteps of Lincoln, the greatest President, after Washington, that this nation has had.

November 18, 1861: Jefferson Davis Reports

Friday, November 18, AD 2011

 

On November 18, 1861, Jefferson Davis issued a report to the Confederate Congress on the progress of the War.  It is a fascinating document.  It details how he perceived the War at this early stage.  Here is the text of the report, interspersed with comments by me:

Richmond November 18th 1861

The few weeks which have elapsed since your adjournment have brought  us so near the close of the year that we are now able to sum up its  general results. The retrospect is such as should fill the hearts of our people with gratitude to Providence for His kind interposition in their behalf. Abundant yields have rewarded the labor of the agriculturist,  whilst the manufacturing industry of the Confederate States was never so prosperous as now. The necessities of the times have called into  existence new branches of manufactures, and given a fresh impulse to the activity of those heretofore in operation. The means of the Confederate States for manufacturing the necessaries and comforts of life within  themselves increase as the conflict continues, and we are gradually  becoming independent of the rest of the world for the supply of such  military stores and munitions as are indispensable for war. The  operations of the army soon to be partially interrupted by the  approaching winter have afforded a protection to the country, and shed a lustre upon its arms through the trying vicissitudes of more than one  arduous campaign, which entitle our brave volunteers to our praise and  our gratitude.

The Confederacy would expand its industrial plant enormously during the War, but it could never compete with the industrial might of the Union.  The crop of 1861 was indeed bountiful, and it did small good for the Confederacy since Davis had decided on an informal cotton embargo which it was assumed would convince Great Britain to recognize the Confederacy since the British textile industry relied upon cotton from the South.  It was a ghastly mistake.  With the Union blockade in its infancy, most of the cotton crop of 1861 could have been shipped to Europe and earned much-needed hard currency for the purchase of badly needed supplies and weapons.  Instead, what cotton was not used for domestic purposes in the Confederacy in 1861, simply sat in warehouses and on docks.  This policy was one of the main blunders of the Davis administration in 1861.

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One Response to November 18, 1861: Jefferson Davis Reports

  • For all their talk of states rights, in the pre war years there is evidence that citizens in slave states had no qualms whatsoever about using federal means to protect or extend the peculiar institution. Though I have no doubt defending states rights was used extensively as propaganda, and honestly believed by both policy makers and voters, I just cannot justify putting it on equal par with slavery as a cause for southern secession when teaching the causes of the civil war.

Jefferson Davis and Pio Nono

Friday, August 13, AD 2010

Jefferson Davis was always a friend to Catholics.  In his youth as a boy he studied at the Saint Thomas School at the Saint Rose Dominican Priory in Washington County Kentucky.  While there Davis, the only Protestant student, expressed a desire to convert.  One of the priests there advised the boy to wait until he was older and then decide. Davis never converted, but his early exposure to Catholicism left him with a life long respect for the Faith.

When the aptly named anti-Catholic movement the Know-Nothings arose in the 1840s and 1850s, Davis fought against it, as did his great future adversary Abraham Lincoln.

During the Civil War, Pope Pius wrote to the archbishops of New Orleans and New York, praying that peace would be restored to America.  Davis took this opportunity to write to the Pope:

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27 Responses to Jefferson Davis and Pio Nono

  • Thank you for this post.

    I am reading (again) Sears’ Gettysburg – slower this time. I had never thought of this possibility. Sears mentions that the South could have called for a Constititional Convention instead of firing on Fort Sumter. In that way, the North would have either negotiated or been the first to open fire on fellow Americans.

    Has anyone else seen that interesting concept?

  • I’m reading again (for the fourth time) Bruce Catton’s “The Coming Fury” and it seems clear that the clamor for secession overcame any voice of moderation after Lincoln’s election, which was seen as doom for the hopes of the south to have new territories come in as slave states (which would maintain a balance in Congress between slave/non-slave states).

    Even better than a constitutional convention (at which the south would not be able to prevail) it would have been better if South Carolina had let Ft. Sumter be… and if Lincoln had not insisted on calling up troops from the states for invasion of the south, Virginia, Tenessee, and N. Carolina would likely not have seceeded, and the common wisdom is that a confederacy of only deep south states would not have lived long.

    In short, there were alternatives to the revolution that was the civil war, but alas– firebreathing secessionists and firebreathing abolitionists would have none of it.

  • Secession would not have happened except in an atmosphere of crisis. If southern representatives and senators had remained in their seats in Congress, they could have blocked any legislation they feared with the help of Northen Democrats. They would have quickly realized that no, Lincoln wasn’t going to take away their slaves, put them in jail and have their slaves and carpet baggers from the North running things in their states. Secession was a completely over the top reaction to the election of Lincoln, and like many over the top reactions it ultimately brought about what was feared.

  • I’ve often been asked for citations of Davis’s correspondence with Pius IX (and wondered myself about how extensive it was). I’ve heard that he wore the brown Scapular and was ultimately given last rites by a Priest.

    In any case, thanks! I found this post because WordPress told me I was linked in it, but it must have been one of those transitory “Related Post” links.

    I’ll be linking this to my existing work on Davis!

  • Thanks, I knew you gents would be on top of this.

    I was always more interested in the military and armchair-general aspects. So many years out of school: the politics/causes give me brain-freeze.

    Once the guns started, it was a fight to the death – tragic.

  • Pingback: Where is the continuity in your hermeneutic? | The Lewis Crusade
  • In Supremo Apostolatus
    Apostolic Letter of Pope Gregory XVI on the Slave Trade. Promulgated on December 3, 1839

    PLACED AT THE SUMMIT of the Apostolic power and, although lacking in merits, holding the place of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who, being made Man through utmost Charity, deigned to die for the Redemption of the World, We have judged that it belonged to Our pastoral solicitude to exert Ourselves to turn away the Faithful from the inhuman slave trade in Negroes and all other men. Assuredly, since there was spread abroad, first of all amongst the Christians, the light of the Gospel, these miserable people, who in such great numbers, and chiefly through the effects of wars, fell into very cruel slavery, experienced an alleviation of their lot. Inspired in fact by the Divine Spirit, the Apostles, it is true, exhorted the slaves themselves to obey their masters, according to the flesh, as though obeying Christ, and sincerely to accomplish the Will of God; but they ordered the masters to act well towards slaves, to give them what was just and equitable, and to abstain from menaces, knowing that the common Master both of themselves and of the slaves is in Heaven, and that with Him there is no distinction of persons.

    But as the law of the Gospel universally and earnestly enjoined a sincere charity towards all, and considering that Our Lord Jesus Christ had declared that He considered as done or refused to Himself everything kind and merciful done or refused to the small and needy, it naturally follows, not only that Christians should regard as their brothers their slaves and, above all, their Christian slaves, but that they should be more inclined to set free those who merited it; which it was the custom to do chiefly upon the occasion of the Easter Feast as Gregory of Nyssa tells us. There were not lacking Christians, who, moved by an ardent charity ‘cast themselves into bondage in order to redeem others,’ many instances of which our predecessor, Clement I, of very holy memory, declares to have come to his knowledge. In the process of time, the fog of pagan superstition being more completely dissipated and the manners of barbarous people having been softened, thanks to Faith operating by Charity, it at last comes about that, since several centuries, there are no more slaves in the greater number of Christian nations. But — We say with profound sorrow — there were to be found afterwards among the Faithful men who, shamefully blinded by the desire of sordid gain, in lonely and distant countries, did not hesitate to reduce to slavery Indians, negroes and other wretched peoples, or else, by instituting or developing the trade in those who had been made slaves by others, to favour their unworthy practice. Certainly many Roman Pontiffs of glorious memory, Our Predecessors, did not fail, according to the duties of their charge, to blame severely this way of acting as dangerous for the spiritual welfare of those engaged in the traffic and a shame to the Christian name; they foresaw that as a result of this, the infidel peoples would be more and more strengthened in their hatred of the true Religion.

    It is at these practices that are aimed the Letter Apostolic of Paul III, given on May 29, 1537, under the seal of the Fisherman, and addressed to the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo, and afterwards another Letter, more detailed, addressed by Urban VIII on April 22, 1639 to the Collector Jurium of the Apostolic Chamber of Portugal. In the latter are severely and particularly condemned those who should dare ‘to reduce to slavery the Indians of the Eastern and Southern Indies,’ to sell them, buy them, exchange them or give them, separate them from their wives and children, despoil them of their goods and properties, conduct or transport them into other regions, or deprive them of liberty in any way whatsoever, retain them in servitude, or lend counsel, succour, favour and co-operation to those so acting, under no matter what pretext or excuse, or who proclaim and teach that this way of acting is allowable and co-operate in any manner whatever in the practices indicated.

    Benedict XIV confirmed and renewed the penalties of the Popes above mentioned in a new Apostolic Letter addressed on December 20, 1741, to the Bishops of Brazil and some other regions, in which he stimulated, to the same end, the solicitude of the Governors themselves. Another of Our Predecessors, anterior to Benedict XIV, Pius II, as during his life the power of the Portuguese was extending itself over New Guinea, sent on October 7, 1462, to a Bishop who was leaving for that country, a Letter in which he not only gives the Bishop himself the means of exercising there the sacred ministry with more fruit, but on the same occasion, addresses grave warnings with regard to Christians who should reduce neophytes to slavery.

    In our time Pius VII, moved by the same religious and charitable spirit as his Predecessors, intervened zealously with those in possession of power to secure that the slave trade should at least cease amongst the Christians. The penalties imposed and the care given by Our Predecessors contributed in no small measure, with the help of God, to protect the Indians and the other people mentioned against the cruelty of the invaders or the cupidity of Christian merchants, without however carrying success to such a point that the Holy See could rejoice over the complete success of its efforts in this direction; for the slave trade, although it has diminished in more than one district, is still practiced by numerous Christians. This is why, desiring to remove such a shame from all the Christian nations, having fully reflected over the whole question and having taken the advice of many of Our Venerable Brothers the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and walking in the footsteps of Our Predecessors, We warn and adjure earnestly in the Lord faithful Christians of every condition that no one in the future dare to vex anyone, despoil him of his possessions, reduce to servitude, or lend aid and favour to those who give themselves up to these practices, or exercise that inhuman traffic by which the Blacks, as if they were not men but rather animals, having been brought into servitude, in no matter what way, are, without any distinction, in contempt of the rights of justice and humanity, bought, sold, and devoted sometimes to the hardest labour. Further, in the hope of gain, propositions of purchase being made to the first owners of the Blacks, dissensions and almost perpetual conflicts are aroused in these regions.

    We reprove, then, by virtue of Our Apostolic Authority, all the practices abovementioned as absolutely unworthy of the Christian name. By the same Authority We prohibit and strictly forbid any Ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this traffic in Blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse, or from publishing or teaching in any manner whatsoever, in public or privately, opinions contrary to what We have set forth in this Apostolic Letter.

    Note: This Apostolic Letter was read during the 4th Provincial Council of Baltimore, December 3, 1839.)

  • VETO MESSAGE.

    EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, February 28, 1861.
    Gentlemen of Congress: With sincere deference to the judgment of Congress, I have carefully considered the bill in relation to the slave trade, and to punish persons offending therein, but have not been able to approve it, and therefore do return it with a statement of my objections. The Constitution (section 7, article I.) provides that the importation of African negroes from any foreign country other than slave-holding States of the United States is hereby forbidden, and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same. The rule herein given is emphatic, and distinctly directs the legislation which shall effectually prevent the importation of African negroes. The bill before me denounces as high misdemeanor the importation of African negroes or other persons of color, either to be sold as slaves or to be held to service or labor, affixing heavy, degrading penalties on the act, if done with such intent. To that extent it accords with the requirements of the Constitution, but in the sixth section of the bill provision is made for the transfer of persons who may have been illegally imported into the Confederate States to the custody of foreign States or societies, upon condition of deportation and future freedom, and if the proposition thus to surrender them shall not be accepted, it is then made the duty of the President to cause said negroes to be sold at public outcry to the highest bidder in any one of the States where such sale shall not be inconsistent with the laws thereof. This provision seems to me to be in opposition to the policy declared in the Constitution – the prohibition of the importation of African negroes – and in derogation of its mandate to legislate for the effectuation of that object. Wherefore the bill is returned to you for your further consideration, and, together with the objections, most respectfully submitted.

    JEFF’N DAVIS.

  • “In any case, thanks!”

    You are entirely welcome GodsGadfly!

  • Good grief, slavery was enshrined in the Confederate Constitution. You couldn’t become a member of the ‘Confederacy’ unless you endorsed and embraced slavery. No amout of neo-confederate embroidery will change those historical facts.

    “We reprove, then, by virtue of Our Apostolic Authority, all the practices abovementioned as absolutely unworthy of the Christian name. By the same Authority We prohibit and strictly forbid any Ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this traffic in Blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse, or from publishing or teaching in any manner whatsoever, in public or privately, opinions contrary to what We have set forth in this Apostolic Letter.”

    These words have meaning. You should read them.

  • Trevor, you calling me a neo-Confederate is rich. As the thread linked to below indicates, I have long been engaged in combox battles with neo-Confederates.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/06/27/abortion-foreign-policy/

    I will assume that you are not a faithful reader of this blog, or you would not be confused on this point.

    In any of my posts dealing with historical topics, I try to be as accurate as possible and to give the subject his or her historical due. You brought up the slave trade and I cited a Davis veto on the subject that indicated, accurately, that the Confederate Constitution banned the international slave trade. I think you need to grind axes less and read more, lest you become a mirror-image of the neo-Confederates you oppose who are afraid to simply let the historical record be examined, warts and all.

  • Donald – Can you write an article addressing the following: Why do many blacks have Irish last names? Did Irish Catholics have plantations in the South and what happened to the Catholics in the South since it seems that they largely disappeared until recently? (recently re-appeared due to Catholic moving from the North)

  • Here is a discussion of the topic John.

    http://web.mac.com/jamesdwithrow/iWeb/Site/Blog/0C7FF890-B6D6-4BB1-82B6-A6273F647B88.html

    With all due respect to the fictional Scarlett O’Hara, Irish Catholics tended to be underrepresented among plantation owners in the antebellum South. I assume that most of the Irish names are from slaves adopting the names of Scot-Irish who owned them, not an uncommon occurrence, or through unions, in matrimony and out, between blacks and whites.

  • Thanks Donald – That makes more sense. Catholics in the South didn’t disappear, rather, they were never there. The names of black people can be explained by non-Catholic Scots-Irish.

  • Donald,

    The 1839 Apostolic Letter which was read at the 4th Provincial Council in Baltimore makes no distinction between domestic and international slave trading, it condems the practice in its totality.

    Yet Jefferson Davis’ veto twenty one years later doesn’t uphold a ban on all slave trading, only on international slave trading. Did it matter to the Catholic Church whether the slaves were traded from Ghana or Maryland when it issued the letter? Did Pope Gregory XVI have inernational politics or basic human rights on his mind when he wrote it?

    Perhaps you should read the letter again, this time to gain a fuller understanding what the Vatican was trying to convey, before continuing your defense of Jefferson Davis.

  • And perhaps you should try reading what I have written Trevor. In your fierce grinding of the ax you have a death grip on, you have failed to notice that I said nothing about whether the veto was in accord with the text of the letter, nor am I defending Jefferson Davis. You are the mirror image of the obsessed neo-Confederate.

  • Quoting Mr. Davis: ” . . .we desire none of our enemy’s possessions, but that we fight merely to resist the devastation of our country and the shedding of our best blood, and to force them to let us live in peace under the protection of our own institutions, and under our laws, which not only insure to every one the enjoyment of his temporal rights, but also the free exercise of his religion.”

    First, I admit to being a little biased since I am the descendant of people who were enslaved in these United States. But it seems to me that Mr. Davis is being a little bit dishonest here since he supported an institution which took possession of people’s bodies and treated human beings as cattle. Slavery, especially as practiced in the United States, was an ongoing assault against human dignity. How Mr. Davis could possibly claim that southern laws and mores “insure to everyone his temporal rights” is beyond me. This repesents a severe disconnect from the reality he was well acquainted with as a slaveowner. I strongly urge you to read some of the books detailing the internal slave trade before romanticizing the ante-bellum south. (I especially recommend “Slave Trading in the Old South” by Frederic Bancroft. Then, just to put a human face on the suffering, read “Twelve Years a Slave” by Solomon Northrup.) It’s an ugly chapter and no amount of correspondence between the Pope and Mr. Davis can obscure that.

    Also the opposition to the international slave trade was a form of protectionism since it kept the prices of slaves in the U.S. high. Virginia plantations made fortunes in meeting the demands for slaves as new slave territories to the west opened up. Re-opening the African slave trade would have lowered the prices of slaves.

    The anti-slavery movement was laregely spearheaded, both here and in England, by Protestants and had an explicitly religious grounding. They absolutely refused to play footsie with this institution. To my mind it was Protetantism’s finest hour and certainly one of the jewels in the crown of the west. (I am not claiming that all Protestants opposed slavery, merely that the most agressive and active opponents of slavery were almost invariably Protestant; there was no sustained Catholic presence in the movement to eliminate slavery.) Islam resisted the abolition of slavery into the 1960’s.

    Finally, I can only presume that the Irish names which some African Americans have were taken from Scots-Irish since, with the exception of Louisiana and possibily Mobile, Alabama, there were very few Catholics in the South. Even today the American South is overwhelmingly Protestant altho the influx of Latino immigrants is changing this.

    By contrast, Africans in Latin America are largely Catholic, the religion of those who enslaved them. And we don’t want to get started on the Catholic slave regimes in Latin America, which were arguably much more brutal than those of the Anglosphere.

  • “It’s an ugly chapter and no amount of correspondence between the Pope and Mr. Davis can obscure that.”

    No one here is attempting to do that Denise.

    “there was no sustained Catholic presence in the movement to eliminate slavery.”

    Actually Daniel O’Connell, the Liberator in Ireland, supported abolition in the British Empire and America. He served as the model for William Lloyd Garrison. Father Theobald Matthew, the famed temperance priest, was quite active in abolition in this country. You are correct in that no bishop publicly supported abolition in this country prior to the Civil War.

    “And we don’t want to get started on the Catholic slave regimes in Latin America, which were arguably much more brutal than those of the Anglosphere.”

    That is debatable depending upon the country in Latin America, and what part of the Anglosphere is being used for comparison. In any case in Latin America slavery had been abolished prior to our Civil War except I believe in Cuba and Brazil.

    “Islam resisted the abolition of slavery into the 1960?s.”

    I’d say de facto slavery still goes on in many Islamic countries.

  • ” In your fierce grinding of the ax you have a death grip on, you have failed to notice that I said nothing about whether the veto was in accord with the text of the letter, nor am I defending Jefferson Davis.”

    Donald,

    What other purpose would posting the Davis veto memo have than as a rebuttal to the Vatican letter? You’re clearly defending Jefferson Davis here whether you want to or not. Who’s next on your Cavalcade of Confederates seeking redemption, Benjamin Judah?

  • Trevor,

    It seems to me that Donald was just defending truth and making appropriate distinctions. Donald wrote a post about an exchange between Davis and Pio Nono. Best I can tell it is accurate in its account of facts and the little personal commentary is benign. For reason unknown except to you, you posted the Vatican letter condemning the slave trade with no commentary accompaning it. It is left to the reader to divine why you posted it. The observer would not find your cite relevant to the post unless you were somehow trying make the Pio/Davis exchange irrelevant to history.

    Unfortunately, the cudgel you chose wasn’t as relevant as you you hoped. One doesn’t have to defend the Confederacy, slavery, the slave trade, or Davis except to the truth. i.e. Hitler was a horrible human being and caused countless deaths and much more suffering. However, I know of no information that he liked to eat puppy dogs for dinner. Too accuse him of that just because he caused so much evil does not serve truth.

    Davis was president of the Confederate states. He supported the institution of slavery. He opposed reopening the international slave trade. He had a pleasant exchange with Pope Pius IX. It is what it is.

  • “Donald,

    What other purpose would posting the Davis veto memo have than as a rebuttal to the Vatican letter? You’re clearly defending Jefferson Davis here whether you want to or not. Who’s next on your Cavalcade of Confederates seeking redemption, Benjamin Judah?”

    I posted it Trevor to help show how complicated history tends to be and to give another factoid about Davis. As I have indicated clearly in the link that I posted above in this thread, which I doubt you have bothered to read, I have taken to task time and time again neo-Confederates who attempt to pretend that the Civil War was not all about slavery. Indeed I have noted several times that at the onset of the Civil War Davis said the Civil War was all about slavery.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/06/27/abortion-foreign-policy/

    http://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/cornerstone-speech/

    Not all my posts have to mention that fact, since they are simply slivers of the lives of my subjects and not full blown bios usually, and normally deal with some particular incident or incidents.

    The usual criticisms of my Civil War posts on this blog have been that I am a Lincoln worshiper and a Yankee of the deepest blue, so having you come at me from the other angle is refreshing in addition to being hilarious.

    In regard to Judah P. Benjamin, ante-bellum Senator from Louisiana, and the Jewish member of the Confederate cabinet, married to a Catholic, he was a truly fascinating character and will, in the fullness of time, be the subject of a post. He once responded to Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio calling him a “Hebrew with Egyptian principles”, with this memorable riposte: “It is true that I am a Jew, and when my ancestors were receiving their Ten Commandments from the immediate Deity, amidst the thundering and lightnings of Mt. Sinai, the ancestors of my opponent were herding swine in the forests of Great Britain.” Thank you for the suggestion Trevor!

  • Donald, I’ve read your piece in regards to secession being avoidable if the Democratic party had kept its head in regards to Lincolns win at the polls [1860 Prest elect]. your argument has no basis what ever in this assumption ,for one the Democratic ticket was split asunder. with Stephen Douglas a proponent of popular sovereignty and John C. Breckinridge anti Douglas and anti Douglas’s creed.The contest pre war was the the rights of states. Davis seen the States as sovereign , the federal gov acting on their behalf. the question remains do sovereign states legally have the right to secede from a union of states?.

  • Tom, I have to disagree with your analysis in regards to the clamour for southern Independence or succession.The election of Abe Lincoln in itself was not the catalyst of the rebellion or revolution the problem was inherited by Lincoln, the decline of southern power in the senate, as you rightly pointed out was the basis for separation. As john C. Calhoun once said “The union is a partnership that sectional parity guarantees tranquillity for the nation”.The union changed that configuration by admitting free states whilst keep slave -holding states in check.

    As to Confederate forces firing on FT Sumter, this was exactly what Lincoln had engineered “they fired the first shot”.So much for his promise, where slavery existed so shall it remain unmolested the south had nothing to fear from a Rep adim. It was always in Lincoln’s eye,the horror of slavery although he was never an out and out abolitionist he truly hated slavery.

    As i have alluded to before the civil-war was not fought over slavery, but for Union. as for Va it could not let the Lincoln war machine use her native soil as a land bridge to attack the deep south. While the North fought for Union, The South fought for the Republic.

  • Noleybo, you are mistaken. Secession occurred in a state of crisis that was completely unfounded. Lincoln had pledged to do nothing in regard to slavery in the slave states. Acting with Northern Democrats, Southern representatives and senators could have bottled up any legislation they feared. Instead Secession led to the death of the Peculiar Institution and a fratricidal war that devastated the South. Rarely have a braver people been more poorly led by their leaders than the white Southerners in the Secession Winter of 1860-61.

  • Donald.I must again disagree with your understanding of the crisis as you call it in 1860 in regards to the election of Abe Lincoln.But before I discuss Lincoln and the crisis that you allude to as in 1860, let me draw your attention to compromise after compromise to prevent succession. Missouri 1820, Mexican cession 1850, Kansas Nebraska 1854, all attempts to settle disputes on sectional lines of course not to mention a last ditch effort to advert succession by Davis and other which is general known as The Crittenden Compromise, Lincoln ignored it, he showed utter contempt and disrespect for their efforts.Of course the expansion of slavery was on the table but it showed Lincoln in a true light he’d have no truck with slavery but still he should have had common courtesy to attend.The man was transparent,this pledge that the South had nothing to fear was a total lie. Slavery was safe where it remained was a hollow promise.The Harrison’s Landing[ Genl McClellan] letter proved Lincoln true intent in regards to the slave states when again he showed contempt for the author.

    You again mentioned if the Northern Democrats along with their Southern brethren could have thwarted any legislation proposed by the Lincoln Adim.I put it to you, if they could have agreed on a single candidate the Democrats would have won in 1860.The sectional differences ran deep with Stephen Douglas a fervent support of Popular Sovereignty, animus of Douglas and his policy torn asunder any conciliation between Northern and Southern Democrats.So to contend that a union of both could bottle up Lincoln’s policy is delusional and without recourse to historical accuracy on your part.

  • Noleybo in regard to Lincoln and the Secession Crisis of 1860-61, the only things he was unwilling to compromise on were slavery in the territories and the preservation of the Union. Lincoln even supported an amendment to enshrine slavery in the Constitution if that would mollify the South. The amendment passed Congress and was ratified by three states before it became a dead issue due to the ongoing war. That such an amendment passed the Congress without most Southern senators and representatives being present is a clear indication of how willing Northern Democrats and many Republicans were to allay the fears of the South. Northern Democrats would have been happy to join Southern members of Congress in bottling up Republican legislation. After four frustrating years Lincoln would probably have joined the long list of one term Presidents which was the norm after Andrew Jackson. The South had absolutely nothing to fear from Lincoln. Instead, Southern fireeaters stampeded more moderate colleagues in attempting to secede from the Union by portraying Lincoln as a mortal threat to slavery. Instead, it was the secessionists, by provoking a war they were bound to lose, who signed the death knell of slavery. God must have enjoyed the rich irony.

  • Donald, according to the judgement and interpretations of the Constitution handed down by the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case 1857. That Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in the national lands because that would violate the property rights of the Fifth Amendment.So the highest Judiciary in the land reaffirmed what Southerners always believed, that the Constitution guaranteed their property rights [Slaves ] in any territory.

    For Lincoln to support an amendment to the Constitution enshrining slavery is a nonsense because the the Dred Scott case had already stated that position. That slavery was protect by the Constitution.In fact Lincoln set about undermining the decision because according to the Reps and himself the analysis was erroneous. So what had Southerners to fear from Abe Lincoln?

Jefferson Davis and the Crown of Thorns

Tuesday, August 3, AD 2010

It has long been an article of faith of many admirers of Jefferson Davis that, while he was in Union captivity after the Civil War, he received a crown of thorns from Pope Pius IX woven by the hands of Pio Nono himself.  The Museum of the Confederacy in New Orleans has it on display.  It is a romantic story and appealing on an emotional level.  It is also false.  The Pope did send the imprisoned Davis his photograph with the text  from Matthew 11:28  ‘Venite ad me omnes qui laboratis, et ego reficiam vos, dicit Dominus.’ (Come to me all all ye who labor and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest, sayeth the Lord.)

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29 Responses to Jefferson Davis and the Crown of Thorns

  • I wonder if the crown of thorns myth had anything to do with the lie that Lincoln was anti-Catholic?

    -Tim-

  • I don’t know about Lincoln, but it is undeniable fact that the Republicans in 1860 won in part because of the support of the Know-Nothing party remnants.

    As for the crown of thorns, well, not just Jeff Davis, but the entire south suffered a passion at the hands of the vengeful north… would that Lincoln had not been assasinated; the history of the post-war period would probably have looked much different.

    For us, the lasting legacy of the Late Unpleasantness is the destruction of Federalism as envisioned by the Founders, replaced by a national government that from 1865 onwards would dominate the states in a way unimagined before the war.

  • Or, perhaps, the South suffered God’s will that “all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil *** be sunk, and *** every drop of blood drawn with the lash *** be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'”

  • “I don’t know about Lincoln, but it is undeniable fact that the Republicans in 1860 won in part because of the support of the Know-Nothing party remnants.”

    LIcoln of course thought against the Know NOthings. Just Like Jefferson Davis did in his own State of Mississippi. My Several Greats Grandfather was ahrassed by the Know Nothings In Mississippi.

    “For us, the lasting legacy of the Late Unpleasantness is the destruction of Federalism as envisioned by the Founders, replaced by a national government that from 1865 onwards would dominate the states in a way unimagined before the war.”

    Another myth. SOutherners up too the Democratic Convention in Charleston were doing their bit to try to destroy Federalism becauseof the issue. Further to say that Federalism disapperared after the WAR is very much false.

  • It would have been more appropriate had Pius decided to send him a hammer and nails.

  • Not that such a gift would have been inappropriate for Lincoln as well.

  • Thank you for this information. I am sure you know that Macon, Georgia, has a busy thoroughfare named Pio Nono Avenue.

  • The judiciary, not the executive, invented and imposed the right of abortion. Even before the Civil War I think the notion that States could not impinge upon Federal constitutional rights was recognized. E.g. the (Northern) States reluctant compliance with the Fugitive Slave Act. I might be wrong, and am certainly quibbling, but I don’t believe Roe v. Wade implicates federalism.

  • What might have been. In 1870, Garibaldi invaded Rome, which was still under Papal rule. If the Confederacy had prevailed, Jefferson Davis may have sent reinforcements to the Pope, in order to prevent Rome from falling to Garibaldi.

  • What reason have we to think such a thing would have happened? The percentage of Catholics in the Confederacy was tiny. It was Protestant England which the Rebs imagined they’d get help from.

    There was a international papal army which fought to save the papal states, but there were very few Americans (north or south) in it.

  • But there were at least three members of the Papal Army of Pius IX (the St. Patrick Brigade) who signed up with the Union Army. See Myles Keogh (www.myleskeogh.org), Joseph O’Keeffe, and Daniel Keily. Keogh saw action at Gettysburg and met his demise with Custer at Little Big Horn.

  • “Lincoln of course thought against the Know Nothings”

    Perhaps his most famous quote on the subject comes from a letter he wrote to his longtime friend Joshua Speed in 1855:

    “I am not a Know Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can anyone who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty — to Russia, for example, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

  • Elaine: Good quote. “The base alloy of hypocrisy.” Must try to work that in somewhere.

  • Or, perhaps, the South suffered God’s will that “all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil *** be sunk, and *** every drop of blood drawn with the lash *** be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’”

    Romantic mythology aside, the struggle for political power that directly led to the Civil War was the result of a unresolved tension between the rights of States and the justly feared encroachment upon those rights by a expansive federal government. Sectional interest drove the nation to war. Slavery was a minor concern. Lincoln did not fight to end slavery. He fought to preserve the union (such as it was and now is).

  • No, he did not. But he had the sense realize that his purposes might not have been the same as God’s.

  • While Lincoln did not enter into war for the sake of the slaves, the South certainly aimed to secede in order to preserve that abomination. For those who doubt that, look at the Constitution of the Confederate States of America, specifically the requirements for membership. It unequivocally states that only those recognizing slavery would be admitted. All other issues such as tariffs, etc. could have been resolved. But the continuation of slavery at that time was a game ender for any peaceful resolution.

  • The Civil War was the result of many years of struggle between competing political and economic interest. That punitive trade legislation purposed and in fact injurious to the largely agrarian Southern economy could have been addressed is only an opinion. To assert that that punitive trade legislation injurious to Southern agrarian would have been equitably addressed is without basis in fact.

    At least as significant a factor in the Civil War was the extremely sensitive issue of state rights in the face of creeping federalism. Under the Constitution the Southern states had every right to withdraw from the union. Had the Southern states exited the union, it would have had a very severe impact on Northern manufacturing, financial and shipping interest. By way of restrictive legislation Southern states were faced with a similar situation as that faced in the years immediately preceding the American Revolution when the colonies were expected and by parliamentary action forced to trade primarily with England. The Southern states recognized that they were being pushed to a similar colonial status. The succession of Southern states rightly addressed their legitimate needs and interest. At the same time, it threatened those of the North for a reliable source of raw materials and a convenient protected market for its manufactured goods. Only by military action were the Southern states forced to remain in the union. The only reason Lincoln addressed slavery was as a strategy to help in winning the war. He specifically states that if he could have won the war by ignoring or permitting slavery, he would have done so.

  • For bthomas-
    Please see the website-
    http://sunsite.utk.edu/civil-war/reasons.html
    Which has Declaration of Causes for Seceeding States, which the confederate states conventions gave, AT THE TIME OF SECEEDING, as their reasons for leaving the union. Not a lot about tariffs in there. But TONS about ‘negro’ slavery being threatened as reasons for seceeding.

    As for states having right to seceed, in our U.S. Constitution in Article 4, congress admits states into the union by majority vote. Since secession is not mentioned in the document, its reasonable to assume that a state leaving the union would necessity such a vote.

  • You are to be commended if you wish to do significant primary research into the significant precipitants of the Civil War. You need to turn to know scholarly resources. To assert that a collection of Constitutions expresses a full and complete rational for succession lacks credibility. It would be the same as to present the U.S. Constitution without specific reference to the developmental thought by which it was produced. This and other similar internet sites do not constitute serious scholarship.

    The individual states freely entered into a democratic federated republic. No where in the Constitution or its supporting documents is there any rational to say that this decision constituted a surrender of prerogative by the states individual to choose to remover themselves from that union. An argument from silence is no basis by which to disenfranchise states individual or severally from self-determination. A very up to date example of this right to self-determination is the experience of Yugoslavia and the individual independent nations that decided to remove themselves from that national construct. Given that our federal government used armed force to force the Southern states to remain in a union they did not want, what rational is there to then justify the U.S. acting to support the break-up of Yugoslavia? At the time of the break-up, it was the position of the U.S. that these individual states had the legitimate right to self-determination. This position was affirmed again in the break-up of the now defunct USSR. Oddly, the Southern states were not supposed to have such a right to self-determination. Perhaps it was because that choice exercised would have possessed to much of a potential economic threat to the northern financial, manufacturing and shipping interest. Given that they dominated the federal government of that era, such is certainly the case.

  • Wow, bthomas. I haven’t seen such effervescent loquaciousness since Oswald Bates. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6868F53rgKw&feature=related

  • “The percentage of Catholics in the Confederacy was tiny.” Let’s look at numbers: June 30, 1863 Confederate Army peak strength 473,058; Louisiana, the 3rd most Catholic state in the United States in 1860, contributed 69,000; the Catholic population of antebellum Louisiana was 117,000 in a total population of 708,000; 11,454 Catholics from Louisiana served in the Confederate Army. Sources: Louisiana State Museum, “The Churching of America” and “Why the South Lost the Civil War”. Then again, Catholic Lt. Richard “Dick” Dowling (CSA) and 44 members of the Davis Guard defeated a force of 4000 Federals under the command of General William B. Franklin (USA) and Lt. Frederick Crocker (USN) in the Battle of Sabine Pass on 8 September 1863. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight…”

    “What reason have we to think such a thing would have happened?” There’s no reason not to believe that these Catholic battle-hardened veterans, who may have lost everything they had by 1865, would have given serious consideration to aiding His Holiness in the darkest hour of his pontificate against the other proto-Marxist hordes of Victor Emmanuel II and Garibaldi.

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  • “Wow, bthomas…” Always try to help enlighten the benighted.

  • The crown of thorns is no more absurd, or false, than all other stories about Davis as an honorable man.

    For years I assumed the story about Davis being captured in a dress was silly, that no one ever beleived it, that everyone knew it was a joke.

    Surprise — Davis was very much caught wearing his wife’s dress, and his own wife’s letter proves it. But that isn’t such a big deal, most of us would wear anything to stay alive.

    The “big deal” was Davis cowardice during that flight from Richmond, and his whimpy actions when confronted.

    Perhaps no other single incident shows the real nature of Davis, and in some ways, the nature of the Lost Cause. Slave owners and Southern leaders turned out to be cowards. The SOuth has spent 150 years trying to convince themselves, and the world, otherwise.

    http://jeffdavisdresss.blogspot.com/

  • Actually Davis was almost completely fearless as he amply demonstrated when he heroically led his Mississippi Rifles into battle at Buena Vista during the Mexican War and was wounded as a result.

    http://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/jefferson-davis-hero-of-buena-vista/

    As to the capture of Davis, here is what was written by one of the Union soldiers who captured him:

    “Besides the suit of men’s clothing worn by Mr. Davis he had on when captured Mrs. Davis’ large waterproof dress or robe, thrown over his own fine gray suit, and a blanket shawl thrown over his head and shoulders. This shawl and robe were finally deposited in the archives of the war department at Washington by order of Secretary Stanton.

    The story of the “hoopskirt, sunbonnet and calico wrapper” had no real existence and was started in the fertile brains of the reporters and in the illustrated papers of that day. That was a perilous moment for Mr. Davis. He had the right to try to escape in any disguise he could use.”

    http://valstar.net/~jcraig/capture.htm

    Davis can be amply criticized on numerous grounds, but cowardice is not one of them.

  • Sorry Don,

    You still have avoided — totally — Varina Davis own hand written letter, where she is very specific about Davis clothes, and his actions. He wore a dress and he acted like a coward.

    I can produce Varina’s letter. We know she was there.

    You can not produce letter from some imaginary Union soldier. The soldier you folks dreamed up was not in the group that found Davis.

    Everyone there – including Davis wife — said he had on a dress of some sort. The only one that says it was a fine grey suit is Jeff Davis. But Davis whole account of that day is preposterous nonsense, not just on his dress, but on his supposed heroics.

    Jeff Davis wife, and the union soldiers, reported Davis actions, which were that of a coward when confronted.

    Forget the dress — though he had one on. His actions were utterly cowardly. First of all, he was running AWAY from his wife and children, toward the horses. He claimed later he was going for a guy — nonsense. You don’t leave your gun on horses 200 feet away, when you are the focus of a man hunt. He was running for the horses and his wife said so.

    You have simply adopted Davis own self serving and fraudulent statements as the truth. His own wife’s letter fundamentally validates what the Union soldiers reported. Davis, in other words, was not only caught in a dress, but in a lie about his actions.

    I suggest you read her letter — closely.

    Varina said that he had on a “dressing gown” — not a fine grey suit. She tells what he had on, and does not mention any BS fine suit. If he had on a fine suit, she would have said that. She said “dressing gown”. Over the dressing gown (a dress) he had on a woman’s scarf, and a shawl.

    That is what his WIFE said. And she should know — she dressed him.

    How do we know she dressed him? She said so.

    SO let’s deal with what his WIFE said — not with what Southern apologist made up later.

    Varina also says Davis stood mute when confronted, downcast, sullen. She ran to him — she said — and pulled him to her, and SHE dared the soldiers to shoot HER. She told the soldiers “She is my MOTHER”

    That’s right — go read her own letter. SHe says, in her OWN letter, that SHE called out, its my MOTHER.

    Let me repeat that — she said, in her letter, that she called out, “Its my mother”.

    Why would she call out “Its my mother”? Do you have any explanation for that?

    And Davis stood mute and looked down at the ground. That is what she said. That’s not what I said, that is what she said. And that is what the soldiers reported too.

    This is pretty much what the Union soldier’s reported too.

    In fact, they said when Davis took the dress off, his wife put it on! That is what the soldiers who were there said.

    A stunning bit of trivia. They had told Davis to go change out of the dress. Davis wife went with him, in the tent, so he could change. She emerged wearing that dress!

    Apparently she put the dress on, so the soldiers would not take it — but they took it later anyway, ordered by the War Department to bring the dress to DC. And they brought the dress to DC, where it remained on display for over 20 years, according to a speech by one of the Blair children.

    Why does it matter?

    Because the entire Confederate Myth of honor and bravery collapses like a house of cards, if its two leaders, Davis and Lee, are cowardly cruel and deceptive.

    Varina Davis letter gives us a unique, bird’s eye view of what happened that day. She totally obliterates Davis’s own self serving story of heroics.

    He wore a dress, he acted like a coward even apart from the dress.

    http://jeffdavisdresss.blogspot.com/

  • Taxsanity, you are the mirror image of the Neo-Confederates who seek to distort the historical record to serve current political battles. Davis was not a coward, and your attempts to paint him as one simply is at war with the historical record. Davis was a very brave man fighting for a cause I am glad was defeated. I will not distort the historical record to accuse a man of cowardice when he was not a coward.

    http://www.harpweek.com/09cartoon/BrowseByDateCartoon.asp?Month=May&Date=27

  • Taxsanity, based upon your last comment, which I have deleted, you are banned from this site. You seem to be eaten up by hate and wish to vent that hatred, and I will not allow you to do so on this blog.